Oooh they've got new masks on, big deal

I remember back in 1999 wearing a Slipknot t-shirt to work on a non-corporate dress day. One woman found it offensive and suggested I go home and change it. I said no (yeah, metal rules) and told her that I had paid my two quid, which gave me the right to wear what I wanted. I don't mind admitting that I loved the first Slipknot album, which is why I bought the t-shirt. Their second disc 'Iowa' was a ferocious, pissed off piece of contemporary metal cementing, to me at least, that the band were more than just a gimmicky horror act. 'The Subliminal Verses' was a marked progression by the band. Considered sell-outs because they'd used acoustic guitars, the band were trying to develop their sound. For myself it'd struck a chord and was one of my favourite albums of 2004. Four years later the follow up to that album has surfaced. Does 'All Hope Is Gone' stand up against such a behemoth of a release?

I initially considered lead single 'Psychosocial' quite a disappointment because it wasn't a patch on 'Duality'. However, it's always a good idea to give albums a second, nay even a third chance because 'Psychosocial', like the album as a whole, has grown on me since it first came into my possession. The problem is when a band take four years to follow up any album the anticipation is usually so high that whatever standard the songs are it's usually a let down, until you get used to them of course.

As soon as you reach half way through opening gambit, 'Gematria (The Killing Name)', you realise this is a Slipknot who'd found their niche on their last album and have played it safe by keeping the production and overall feel the same. Why change a winning formula? Why indeed, especially when it works. There are some great examples of this Slipknot niche in potential single, 'Sulfer', the even more potential single, 'Dead Memories', and the even even more potential single, 'Vendetta'. There's the Slipknot of old in 'This Cold Black' and the acoustic guitars are unshackled once more in the down beat but quite excellent 'Snuff'.

There's the usual dirge in 'Gehenna' and 'Wherein Lies Continue' is just plain dull compared to the classy songs that surround it. The second half of the disc is pale comparison to the first half. The fifteen songs listed is four songs too many. Certainly cutting the two mentioned in this paragraph and the last two bore-a-thons would have made 'All Hope Is Gone' a much tighter and enjoyable experience. Another thing I noticed is the lack of scratching, samples, crazed percussion and other pops and squeaks compared to earlier albums. It also suggests that they're not really necessary because although enhanced slightly with the 'extra' sonics, the album wouldn't suffer without them. In other words, they could've made this album with five members instead of nine.

‘All Hope Is Gone’ is Slipknot’s ‘Piece Of Mind’, their ‘...And Justice For All’, their ‘The Blackening’. It is that difficult album that has to follow the high standard set by its predecessor. Although not as good as ‘The Subliminal Verses’ the album is a lesson in consistency and style. It doesn’t push the Slipknot boundaries very much, in fact very little, but it’s exactly what their fans expect and want from them. After some time has passed maybe fans will prefer ‘All Hope Is Gone’ who knows, in the meantime this new release sits very nicely in the bands discography.